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elizabeth-elamDonald Trump hasn’t been in office a full month, and already, he’s making America great again, as the NY Post reports:

No-nudes were apparently not good news at Playboy magazine.

The 63-year-old legendary men’s magazine is bringing back nude models in its upcoming issue — one year after banning naked photos in an effort to boost circulation and attract more mainstream advertisers.

That effort obviously has failed.

Playboy made the decision to go no-nude in 2015. Apparently that was akin to McDonald’s doing away with the Big Mac. One doesn’t abandon what built and maintained one’s brand.

credit: huffingtonpost

credit: huffingtonpost

I’ll be the first to admit the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake,’ Cooper Hefner tweeted Monday. ‘Nudity was never the problem, because nudity isn’t a problem. Today, we’re taking our identity back and rediscovering who we are.’

The new issue displays breasts and butts, but not full frontal nudity that had typified the earlier incarnation before the switch with the March issue a full year earlier. While the ‘no nudes’ permitted greater ability to display the magazine on newsstands, the rise in newsstand sales apparently did not offset the plunge in subscription sales.

The new issue introduces model Elizabeth Elam as Miss March 2017 in a photo spread shot by photographer Gavin Bond.

That’s the lovely Ms. Elam in the cover shot. Full disclosure: I haven’t bought–or seen–a copy of Playboy in about three decades. That’s a long span, I know, but I can’t recall with any degree of certainty when I last saw one. I’m of the generation that was raised on Playboy. Even though, like my peers, I appreciated the lovely young women Playboy so lovingly presented, I had no doubt they were models and that few women looked like them. My appreciation for their feminine beauty did not for a moment dampen my appreciation of the wonderful young women kind enough to give me their attentions, and I remember them fondly and kindly today. And while I certainly bought the magazine to see the beautiful women, I also bought it for the articles.

The Creation credit: en.wikipedia.org

The Creation
credit: en.wikipedia.org

Back in those days, before the Internet, Playboy really was one of the only places to find articles of that kind and quality. I read Jimmy Carter’s interview where he lusted in his heart, and innumerable other interesting tales. Over the years, Playboy went from being near-scandalous to openly ubiquitous, even mundane. Pushed by Penthouse, Hustler, and the burgeoning Internet, Playboy went full frontal. That didn’t rekindle my already dwindling interest, and as with so much changed by Internet access, Playboy’s fortunes went the way of its rapidly aging founder, Hugh Hefner, who is now 90 years old. The once ultra-hip Playboy mansion became an anachronism, something virtually no one heard of anymore, nor did many care. The Playboy philosophy, like the Civil Rights Movement, won the battle it so long worked to win, and thereafter, there didn’t seem to be much of a reason for them to continue to exist.

Porn, particularly that available on the Internet, has become, almost before anyone noticed, mainstream, common, and if not quite universally accepted, unremarkable. That doesn’t mean some are not still railing against it, as Fox News reports:   

Figuring out the risk-to-benefit ratio of watching pornography may just top the ranks of controversial topics scientists can’t seem to completely agree on. But one thing’s for sure: Americans like watching porn — and lots of it.

According to the website Paint Bottle, 30 percent of all data transferred online is porn. In a 2015 infographic, the porn site detailed that 70 percent of men consume the content compared to 30 percent of women. And the number of people consuming porn is rapidly increasing every week, according to the site.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 10.08.16 PM

Thirty percent of women? I suspect the number is substantially higher. Men are more likely than women to admit such things openly to strangers. Yet, the incredible success of 50 Shades of Gray, the mild S&M series, book and movie, is almost entirely female driven. There is no doubt men and women see porn differently, and prefer differing imagery, but both genders are wired for it.

While one can certainly build a moral case against porn, anti-porn advocates have, for decades, strained mightily to produce research proving porn is unquestionably harmful. 

One big-picture question has to do with how confident one can be — scientifically — that pornography consumption is causally related to the various harms identified in the resolution,’ Paul J. Wright, an associate psychology, socialization and media use professor at Indiana University Bloomington, told Fox News in an email. ‘To answer this question, one would have to identify a philosophy of cause that all agree to, standards for acceptable evidence, and then engage in systematic reviews of the literature associated with each hypothesized harm. In short, this would be a monumental effort, and likely would still lead to some disagreement among scientists, because although the promise of science is consensus, scientists rarely 100 percent agree on anything.

It matters not which party is in power, both try to do harm to the Constitution. In the case of Virginia, arguably, the First Amendment:

In their proposed legislation, Virginia lawmakers claim pornography is ‘addictive,’ promotes normalization of rape, may lessen the ‘desire to marry,’ and ‘equates violence with sex,’ encourages ‘group sex,’ ‘risky sexual behavior’ and infidelity, among other effects.

I’m sure someone is also saying porn must be crushed to save the children. When politicians are trying to save “the children,” one can be sure whatever they’re selling can’t be sold on it’s own merits. In speaking to these assertions, one needs little more than common sense and the application of a bit of elementary logic.

Is porn “addictive?” One occasionally sees a sensationalized account of someone so caught up in porn they call themselves an addict, but such accounts are notable for their rarity, and for the coincidence of accompanying, and more damaging mental issues. One can easily argue people seek out porn not because it has the power to take over their lives, but because they find such imagery pleasing, and they can take it or leave it. It’s rather like the missing children craze. Once people started thinking about it and listening to facts, they realized there was no epidemic of missing children. The same seems to be true regarding porn “addicts.”

When it comes to alcoholism, gambling and drugs, the answer is clear: Addiction exists. Studies show a clear association between those behaviors and alterations in brain chemistry, which is coupled with physical withdrawal effects if the given behavior is restricted. But, ‘There really isn’t the science to demonstrate that porn is in and of itself harmful and addictive,’ Ian Kerner, a licensed psychotherapist and sex counselor, told Fox News. ‘That has not been, in my estimation, scientifically or clinically proven.

Rather, Kerner argued, excessive porn viewing often presents as a comorbidity with another health issue, like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

In fact, in Kerner’s experience, ethical, so-called feminist pornography — which often features storylines, and always contracted, paid adults having consensual sex — can enhance couples’ sexual experiences by helping partners get warmed up and be creative in the bedroom.

Perhaps counterintuitively, watching porn may also help keep some relationships intact, he said.

‘I know a lot of men who travel and are happy to masturbate to porn rather than potentially pursue infidelity,’ Kerner said. ‘When there are natural libido gaps in a relationship — maybe one partner is interested in sex more than the other partner, maybe one just had a baby and can’t have sex, or maybe illness is involved — porn is actually a really positive way to smooth over those libido gaps.”

This, in part, requires one to think men essentially sexual automatons that must either regularly have sex or masturbate. It gives men virtually no credit for self-control, while assuming the self-control of women is essentially endless.

And yet, experts like Struthers argue that basic psychological science suggests frequent exposure to something like porn may indeed lead to normalization of harmful behaviors.

‘The more you’re exposed to something, the more you tend to see it as acceptable, whether it’s violence, gambling or sexuality,’ Struthers said.

credit; fox news.com

credit; fox news.com

This is far too simplistic. One cannot make it to adulthood without seeing, via TV and the movies, an avalanche of violence, yet despite a steadily increasing population, violent crime has been decreasing for decades. If mere exposure to violence, gambling or sexuality were sufficient to turn one into a helpless addict, the cause and effect relationship would have been evident long, long ago, and we would be a nation of addicts.

This is essentially the underpinning of the radical feminist argument that pornography inevitably leads to rape. Common sense shows this to be nonsense. In all my years in police work, where I focused on catching stalkers and also investigated rape cases, I found not a single instance where porn played any causative role in those crimes. Were there such a cause-effect relationship, with the ready availability of Internet porn, there shouldn’t be a single un-raped woman in the country, yet no such thing has manifested.

A fundamental conservative principle is personal responsibility. The viewing of any form of porn–child porn is aberrant and justly illegal, of course–does not in any way excuse anyone, male or female, from treating others with sincerity and kindness and from avoiding criminal and self-destructive practices.

In crusading against the supposed evils of porn, is there room for redemption? Can one claim women are victims of pornography, yet threaten to cast the first stone? That remains unresolved, at least in Dallas, Texas:

A Dallas ISD teacher who was fired because she acted in adult films more than a decade ago says she was forced into “sex slavery” and is fighting to get back her dream job helping children.

Resa Woodward, 38, taught sixth-grade science at an all-girls STEAM academy at Balch Springs Middle School before she was removed from the classroom in November. She was fired after her past in adult films was exposed on social media. She is appealing her termination to the Texas Education Agency.

Woodward said a controlling and manipulative man forced her into ‘sex slavery,’ according to her appeal letter to Education Commissioner Mike Morath, released to The Dallas Morning News this week.

‘Young, stupid and afraid, I complied to avoid his wrath,’ she wrote. ‘Only a woman who has been through such a horrifying experience could fully understand, but I’m asking you to understand and re-consider the terrible charges being brought against me, the victim of an abusive past.

I do not, of course, have all of the available information in this case. News accounts seem to suggest there is no evidence whatever Woodward’s stint in porn more than a decade ago has had any effect on her teaching career. In fact, her intelligence and dedication seem to be exemplary:

Woodward explained how she was able to escape her abusive relationship. She went on to become a teacher, working in North Carolina and Florida before coming to Texas, where she earned a master’s degree.

Woodward, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, began working at the all-girls school in 2014 and quickly became a standout teacher.

In her letter to Morath — a former DISD trustee — she noted that she earned the highest rating of “exemplary” last school year in DISD’s distinguished teacher program and was a nominee for district teacher of the year. She was also a nominee for campus teacher of the year for 2016-17, she wrote.

Teaching was more than a career, Woodward wrote. It was a dream fulfilled, one in which she was able to change the lives of many students.

‘Please tell me this is not the end,’ she wrote. ‘Do not penalize me for a dark saga in my youth that was not of my making.’

According to Woodward’s termination letter, obtained this week, district officials fired her because her previous work ‘in adult content media’ was accessible on the internet and available to the public. That ‘casts the District in negative light and adversely affects the District,’ according to the letter, dated Dec. 13.

DISD initially cleared her in an internal investigation last March, when officials first learned of her past. But the district didn’t move to terminate her until last fall.

This is an obvious model for the reality that one’s Internet actions follow one for a lifetime, but there are more weighty issues involved. If one hates the sin, but loves the sinner, how does one justify casting Woodward out of polite society, particularly for something she did more than a decade ago, and when there is nothing but evidence of her contrition and consistent efforts to remake her life in an inherently productive way since?

Texas teachers must adhere to a code of ethics that requires them to have ‘good moral character’ and be ‘worthy to instruct or supervise the youth of this state.’ Breaking that code can be grounds for termination.

However, school districts have a lot of leeway in determining what that means, according to Clay Robison, spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association.

‘The district can claim that something a teacher does has undermined her ability to be effective as a teacher,’ he said. ‘A teacher can fight it, but that usually involves significant costs.

It always involves significant costs, financial and otherwise. If nudity is indeed normal, as young Mr. Hefner asserts, and as the availability of porn would seem to confirm, where is any violation of a morality clause for acts done more than a decade ago, when Ms. Woodward was not a teacher, in distant places, which did not violate the law? If Ms. Woodward is willing to put up with the certain harassment and disdain she will experience if she continues with the DISD, wouldn’t it be a show of good character for her colleagues and supervisors to defend her character and resolve? Wouldn’t that make them all worthy “to instruct or supervise the youth” of Texas? Wouldn’t that be a teachable moment? Is redemption only for certain kinds of sin?

credit: ebaumsworld.com

credit: ebaumsworld.com

I suspect Playboy’s return to its roots, so to speak, will only temporarily stave off the inevitable. Where porn is concerned, and Playboy is among its mildest and most innocuous forms, the Internet is the past, present and future.

And the moral battle rages…

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